REMEMBER ME (1 of 3): Why Star Trek Nostalgia Rules the Internet – With Exclusive Comments From JD Payne

Star Trek V

Today we start our look at a look back: Star Trek nostalgia in all its forms. Why is it that nostalgia for all things Trek (even for those who weren’t alive during Trek’s original run) has become a common thread in online forums? And how has the fandom changed since the 1960’s? In Part One of the three part series Remember Me, Trekmovie’s Jared Whitley sat down with J.D. Payne (co-writer of the 2016 Star Trek movie), Mission Log Podcast’s John Champion, SF Debri’s Chuck Sonnenberg, and more to discuss how the changing TV landscape and our ever increasing connectivity with other fans has changed the way we watch new TV and discuss classic shows. Hit the jump for Part One.

JD Payne’s first encounter with Star Trek was the TNG episode, “Frame of Mind.” If you’re too busy to follow that link to Memory Alpha, it’s the one where Riker thinks he’s going crazy.


Take a seat – we could be here for a while

“I remember feeling like I’d stumbled into this hidden gold-mine of awesome stories,” said Payne, who is one of the screenwriters for the next Star Trek movie. “It was something I had discovered on my own, at a crucial point in early adolescence, that shaped me profoundly.”

After that, Payne poured himself into the series, recording episodes as they aired back-to-back late on UPN, then editing out commercials with a dual-deck VHS player for his own Trek archive. He got an episode guide and checked them off as he went.

So like all true fans of Star Trek, he showed more dedication to it than most graduate students do their coursework.

Berlin High School Graduation

Scrupulously recording episodes wasn’t uncommon among Trek fans back in the day, but it’s not necessary in the DVD/Netflix/Memory Alpha world. Easy access to archived information is one of the things fueling the current era of Internet nostalgia. In the olden days, if you wanted to see Q vs. Spock you would have to go to a convention with John De Lancie and Leonard Nimoy. Nowadays you just go here:


This video is so old I think they make some Y2K jokes.

“Nostalgia for everything is strong, no matter what,” said John Champion, co-host of the Trek podcast Mission Log. “People are able to express what they’re into, have online discussions, and very easily find these subjects that they want to share.”

Of course that nostalgia is pronounced among Star Trek fans, probably because Trek fans didn’t have the capacity to discuss their shows online the next day – certainly not like you can nowadays with Game of Thrones or even like you could with Lost a few years ago.

terry oquinn
Don’t tell me what I can’t cloak!

“There’s also been a cultural movement that being a geek, and I mean that in the best possible meaning of the word – just someone passionate about a topic – is kind of an accepted, cool thing now,” Champion continued. “If it’s sports or science fiction or Harry Potter, you can find people who accept you for that because they’re into it too.”

In 1994, only a few people were talking online at all – and even then there were no Wikis, no subreddits, no meme generators, and no video-sharing sites. So if you’d like to reach back into your past to ask how the same people who made “All Good Things” could have followed it up with Star Trek: Generations, check out a merciless review of the film by Red Letter Media. Or Confused Matthew. Or Linkara. Or SF Debris. Or The Agony Booth. Or The Nostalgia Critic.

captain harriman
Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.

The online sophistication necessary for tech savvy Star Trek fans to dissect movies and TV shows has been around for a while. But 10 years ago, Star Trek fans weren’t hurrying to the Internet on Monday mornings to talk about Star Trek – they were talking about Battlestar Galactica.

“The TV landscape at the time was weird,” Champion explains. “Galactica, getting 3-4 million viewers, was considered a massive breakout hit for SyFy. Enterprise‘s lowest was 3-4 million and it was considered a failure for UPN. The perceived success of the two series has to do more with expectations of the network landscape of the time than it has to do with the inherent size of the audience. Enterprise was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

322358-picard-facepalm

As such, Trek fans are making up for lost time by reaching back to the previous shows, notably TNG.

“TNG is seen as the flagship series of that era,” said Chuck Sonnenberg, host of SF Debris. “That’s why I think it’s still in the public consciousness outside the Trek community, people growing up with original broadcast or syndication, because TNG started penetrating popular culture like The Original Series did and drawing in people who weren’t necessarily science fiction fans.”

It’s also helped that Patrick Stewart has had such a successful career, both inside and outside of nerd-dom.

make it so

George Takei and Wil Wheaton have probably helped fuel Star Trek nostalgia too – but there may be a chicken-and-the-egg situation with them. What has unequivocally fueled nostalgia for Trek is the rebooted movie franchise, even if fans’ reactions have been varied.

“The success of Star Trek (2009) has ensured that the powers that be will continue to support the franchise, and either way that’s good news for Trek fans,” Sonnenberg continued. “If you liked the films you can hopefully expect more in the same vein, and if you didn’t like the films then they are at the very least keeping Star Trek in the public’s mind.”

Another sign of this is convention attendance, which got a shot in the arm after the 2009 film. Champion attended at a convention five years ago where a panelist asked how many people were attending one for the first time.

“Easily half the hands went up,” he said. “There are a lot more young people and families with young people. And just from a merchandising point of view, if you look at the last five years, it’s not the reboot toys that are selling incredibly well: it’s the OS stuff.”

star trek kids
Give me some candy or I’ll shoot you out the torpedo tube

Of course balancing the desire for nostalgia with the need to keep the franchise moving forward is a delicate act.

“It’s the ever-challenging paradox of making the familiar new again,” Payne said. “Star Trek has, baked into its DNA, the promise of continued expansion — meaning that to be true to itself, it also has to push its own boundaries: ‘to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations — to boldly go where no one has gone before!’ In other words, it has to boldly go where no Trek has gone before — but it has to do so in a uniquely Trek fashion. It is a universe with boundless imagination and possibilities.”


AND lots and lots of awesome fight scenes

In parts 2 and 3, we’ll watch the watchers with in-depth looks at Mission Log and SF Debris. If you can’t wait that long, feel free to watch “Who Watches the Watchers.” But regardless, share your favorite examples of Trek nostalgia in the comments below.

 


 

newest oldest

JD Payne seems increasingly like a true fan and a welcome addition to the family of official Trek creators. In addition, many of the points covered in this article ring true. Fans do love to share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of the series, contributing to the camaraderie of commonality. It’s fun, and it makes you feel involved.

All in all, a shared interest in something as fascinating as Trek can be is a common thread that promotes friendship and good-feeling. An excellent reason to be a fan of Star Trek.

Thanks for another great article, TrekMovie.

@ 1. Hat Rick – June 28, 2014

“JD Payne seems increasingly like a true fan and a welcome addition to the family of official Trek creators.”

Agreed. I hope that Trekmovie will do an in-depth interview with Payne soon.

The toys are selling? What toys?

Don’t get me wrong, I wish they’d start making some again.

@ 3. Ever looked at Entertainment Earth? There are 10 pages of Star Trek toys, props, clothes, accessories, etc. Only a tiny percentage of those are related to ST ’09 – the vast majority are original series or TNG.

Guess you don’t buy the DST stuff then? Ships,action figures,that kinda thing. PLENTY of toys out there.

J-R!

YES! Genuine or honest, true camaraderie (too rare in real life sometimes) is one of the big keys that makes Star Trek.

As Spock ’d say to the ST3 writing party: “Remember.”

Good article! But the fact the top pic is flipped left/right bugs me to no end.

@3.

The Eaglemoss Starships are quite cool.

Really good read!

Jimmy Doohan looks none too impressed with something (either Shatner or the champagne, I’m guessing) in that pic. LOVE IT!!!

I suspect part of the nostalgia credit goes to CBS. Although, I’m not sure they picked up THE BIG BANG THEORY with that in mind, the brass there has been able to spin STAR TREK nostalgia out of that series as they’ve never done before. And its become a showcase for their licensed kitsch.

Not meaning to be a wet blanket, but I’m once bitten, twice shy when it comes to BR Trek writers demonstrating their Trek bona fides in advance of the movie they’re writing.

There’s one thing, and one thing alone, that will demonstrate whether these new writers have a good understanding of and appreciation for the values and sensibilities that made Trek great: their work product.

Until then, I neither believe nor disbelieve what they say with regard thereto.

Really great to hear from Payne! Hope there is more from him in the next parts. Haven’t really heard much of his views since that video that went out on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnOmQrCVaq0

@7.

Bugs me too! C’mon and flip it already.

It’s because the crew of Star Trek became our family…sometimes a family to people in families that lacked the supportive, upbuilding nature of the Enterprise crew. TNG introduced us to a new, but related family, as did DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise. Sometimes family is where you find it, and I found one on the Bridge of the NCC-1701.

Everyone in the first pic is suddenly left-handed… and wearing their uni’s backwards.

@12 (Cygnus-X1): Considering the record of the entire ‘Trek franchise, I’m surprise that you are even a fan, given your comments.

At any rate, your correct response should be, in relation to Payne’s comments: “Challenge accepted”. That way, you don’t come off as whiny, but recognize that BR is at least attempting to address the criticism of the previous film. And if Star Wars fans will give their franchise a second look, after the prequels debacle, we can at least give BR a chance to come out with a better product in time for the 50th anniversary, even with low expectations. It’s only fair.

@17. dswynne

“we can at least give BR a chance to come out with a better product in time for the 50th anniversary, even with low expectations. It’s only fair.”

I don’t see Cygnus-X1 coming off as whiny. He has some reservations about the coming movie but he also mentioned that their work product will inform us more about them, so he is not dismissing the next movie right away.

He, like many others including me, has low expectations & this what he expressed in his comment.

@18 (Ahmed): I understand, but Abrams, Kurtzman and Lindelof won’t be part of the production of ST3, and we have two new guys on writing duties with Orci, who will be directing. I would understand Cygnus-X1 having reservations if the original production team was in place for the third film, but they aren’t. It’s one thing to have reservations about the next film, but its another to hold the new guys accountable for the actions of others. That’s why I wrote, in relation to what Payne has stated, “Challenge accepted”. While I personally liked STiD, the flaw of the film was that it relied too much on tropes, from which a film was built upon. I really hope that ST3 is an original film that is in the spirit of the ST franchise, action-driven or otherwise. For now, I’m not going to hold the new guys responsible for the reaction to a previous production, at least until we get some idea as to what ST3 will be about.

@19. dswynne

“For now, I’m not going to hold the new guys responsible for the reaction to a previous production, at least until we get some idea as to what ST3 will be about.”

I agree with you about that & I do hope that Payne and McKay will come up with something original & worthy of Trek 50th anniversary.

I feel SO much better now that that top pic is oriented correctly! Phew!

I offer exhibit A :

” 7. Todd – June 28, 2014

Good article! But the fact the top pic is flipped left/right bugs me to no end.

16. CmdrR – June 28, 2014

Everyone in the first pic is suddenly left-handed… and wearing their uni’s backwards.

21. Todd – June 28, 2014

I feel SO much better now that that top pic is oriented correctly! Phew! ”

as proof the axiom Hollywood operates under is NOT one of not caring about the fans but one of counting on their OCD.

What is old Scotty so disgusted about? That is hilarious.

Yes, I would not be here if it wasn’t for the new movies.

This might be a strange question, but out of curiosity, what does “BR” stand for in the phrase “BR Trek” (or similar)? Thanks in advance.

@24. Hat Rick

BR stand for Bad Robot, the movie & TV production company owned by Abrams.

BR is also the company that producing Nu-Trek movies for Paramount, hence “BR Trek”.

Okay, great — thanks Ahmed.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR FIXING PIC #1!

I can’t tell you how many Trek pics have the insignia on the right. It drives me nuts.

Thank you!

17. dswynne – June 28, 2014 Considering the record of the entire ‘Trek franchise, I’m surprise that you are even a fan, given your comments. Why would it surprise you that after two dissatisfying space-action movies which did not comprise nor represent the values and sensibilities that made Trek great (scientific inspiration, meaningful themes, thoughtful character development), and which felt like Star Trek only on the most superficial level, made by the production company currently under contract to produce Trek, that I should be wary of the same kind of Trek bona fides talk that Orci (now directing this third movie) put out in advance of the previous two movies? To me, this is déjà vu all over again. At any rate, your correct response should be, in relation to Payne’s comments: “Challenge accepted”. That way, you don’t come off as whiny, but recognize that BR is at least attempting to address the criticism of the previous film. That was my response when Orci was doing these interviews and trying to generate buzz the last time around, in advance of STID. I was totally open-minded and cautiously optimistic and took him at his word that he’d be “going deeper” (his exact words) and addressing the complaints about ST09 in STID. And he totally failed to do so even to the slightest degree! Again the villain was poorly written with a confused, weak motive. Again there was lacking a meaningful theme to the story. Again it was a run-around action movie,… Read more »

This is what I mean – CygnusX1 repeating his dislike and reasons on yet again another thread that has all to do with nostalgia and not to do with STID.

Great picture of the whole TOS team – ah…those were the days, my friends…:)

29. Keachick (Rose) – June 28, 2014

I just want to make sure that I’m understanding you correctly.

You, Rose, the person who went on for days if not weeks about Chris Pine’s DUI, the trial, the media blow-back, the potential consequences for his career, how upset you’ve been made by Pine’s remarks about social media, and so forth…

You are now looking to stifle my discussing problems with the last two Trek movies, my reaction to the information conveyed in this article, and how those things intersect and relate with one another.

Have I got that about right, Rose?

@28 (Cygnus-X1): As I indicated, it’s one thing to have reservations, especially in light of Orci lack of directorial experience, but your response “…twice shy”, in relations to Payne’s comments, did come off as whiny to me, especially giving the track record of the entire franchise (with half the films being “sub-par”. Furthermore, all I am stating is that in light of the fact that we’re not dealing with the same production team, we should cut Orci and company SOME slack for ST3 until we get some indication as to what the plot is. As a fan of films in general, I never give a filmmaker carte blanche as to what I expect from him or her, but rather judge the final product they put on its own merits. Filmmakers like Spielberg, Scorsese and some others their caliber may be good at their craft, but not every film that they have produced have been stellar. So, in that sense, I like to be fair about it.

But, in light of what Ahmed wrote, I will back off from my accusations on this matter. Film is a subjective matter, and it’s not fair or right of me to force my point-of-view on you. So, for that, I apologize for my inappropriate comment.

CygnusX1 – If I remember rightly, my comments about the Chris Pine incidents went on for about a fortnight. Your comments about how bad the writing of STID is has been repeated over several months, pretty much since the film was released almost 14 months ago. Mind you, you are not alone here, so in fairness, I should cut you slack here.

Unfortunately, repetition, both positive and negative, does seem to have become the name of the game on these boards…

Well, let me try to suggest a means to calm the waters a bit between Cygnus-X and Keachick. First of all, we all are Trek fans, and naturally, we have different ways of expressing our fanship. Second, I do agree that sometimes we tend to say the same things over and over. Might I suggest that we are all a little bit guilty of wanting to have our views see the light of day, and if so, it’s because we want to engage in conversation with new people we haven’t (figurative) talked with yet? After all, for example, I’ve never talked to Keachick about Chris Pine’s DUI on this board, nor have I spoken with Cygnus-X1 about his like or dislke for Abrams Trek. So, given the transitory nature of Internet discourage, sometimes it may be a good thing to repeat oneself, particularly because if one has already made a point, that point could have been lost to the mists of time (not to mention the closing of comments or the descending position of articles as new ones come to replace them). I could very well respond to either or both, as might be my wont at any given time. I enjoy reading both Cygnus-X1’s and Keachick’s contributions in substance and I would hate to see them become mere commentary on other people’s posting styles. Part of being a fan of Trek, to me, is the idea of believing in tolerance and respect for others. It’s an enjoyable belief to… Read more »

^^ Discourse, not “discourage.”

Also, I want to make clear that I, too, am guilty of saying the same thing over and over sometimes, so I suppose I can’t take offense if anyone else does, as long as it’s not excessively excessive.

Hat Rick – I agree with you.

I do read a lot of negativity being expressed about STID on this and the STID IMDb message boards. Sometimes the reasons for dislike do not make sense to me at all, but I see them repeated over and over. So much contradiction as well – first of all, you read where STID is so dumbed down but on the other hand, its story is just too messy, lacking logic and convoluted, making it difficult to understand. Well, which is it?

Some well reasoned explanations are given for character motivation etc but they tend to be ignored or scoffed at, but the repetitive negativity about “bad writing”, “hacks”… keeps on going and going…

I see no worry about repeating that STiD wasn’t very good. It won’t hurt to remind the guy who is responsible for writing and directing the next one that he really does need to considerably improve things after that last effort.

#35 Yes, you pretty much nail it there. It was all the things that you mention. A convoluted, messy, lacking in logic dumbed down rehash of a far better movie.

@2 Ahmed

There was an interview posted with Payne and Patrick Mckay over at Trekcore today. http://trekcore.com/blog/2014/06/mckay-payne-interview1/

@Keachick, 35, Thank you for agreeing with me. I don’t know how some of us began to see STID as the “worst” Star Trek movie, because personally I can’t possibly characterize such a spectacular effort as anything close to that. I would have to classify ST: Insurrection and ST V: The Final Frontier as worse than STID, well before STID. In my mind at present, STID ranks as among the top four or five Star Trek movies. Granted, this is not as high a placement as perhaps I would have liked, or that I would have offered merely a year ago; my opinion has fluctuated since then. However, I do respect the opinions of those who are sorely disappointed by STID’s lack of plot novelty or complexity, or who are unhappy with it in some way. The reason for that is that we may very well differ on the importance or manner of expression of “ideal Trek,” whatever that may be. I tend to be very flexible about what Trek can mean to its various fans. In fact, in some ways, I can easily make an argument that STID fails on a basic level to offer philosophical or moral originality and therefore fails a basic test of “Trekness.” But I wouldn’t really believe such an argument, because I don’t think that it’s a cut-and-dried issue. It’s a matter of taste, which is highly subjective. My high ranking of STID is based on the quality of the production, the earnings it… Read more »

yeah, give up on “BR trek”… it’s nu-trek… OK? =P

and oh yeah… engaging Rose is pointless… don’t feed the trolls… =P

31. dswynne – June 29, 2014 but your response “…twice shy”, in relations to Payne’s comments, did come off as whiny to me, My main point was that I was very open-minded and cut them a lot of slack last time around and was very disappointed that the product did not live up to the promises. During the buzz-generation cycles of the last two BR Trek movies, Orci talked up his Trek bona fides, how his favorite series was TNG (mine too) and so forth. But, the movies that came out were absolutely nothing like TNG; in many important ways, they were the exact opposite of TNG. So, this third time around, I’m being realistic about it all. If that’s whiny, then I’ll wear it with pride. especially giving the track record of the entire franchise (with half the films being “sub-par”. You should have more sympathy for my point of view for this very reason! Look at how many disappointments I’ve endured and still stuck with the franchise, still come back for more. I had a great time at STVI and I still enjoy it. But the TNG movies have not held up well to scrutiny, as riddled with plot holes as they are. So, look at how long I’ve been waiting for a truly good, meaningful Trek movie—over 20 years now! Is that not patience enough for you?!? The line must be drawn HERE! This far! No further! ;-) Furthermore, all I am stating is that in light… Read more »

32. Keachick (Rose) – June 29, 2014

Rose, do me a favor and ignore my comments.

…Or, read them and understand that I’m having a discussion with someone else whom I have a different history of conversations with. And, while you may be familiar with a point that I am making, the person I’m actually conversing with might not be. So, if I say something I’ve said before, please, just scroll past it.

Basically, what Hat Rick said: 33. Hat Rick – June 29, 2014

P.S. Thank you, Hat Rick.

41. I am not Herbert – June 29, 2014

yeah, give up on “BR trek”… it’s nu-trek… OK

It’s BR Trek so long as BR is making it.

The whole “nu” prefix won’t make any sense when and if another production company resumes Trek in the Prime Timeline, which I am hoping against hope will happen soon.

Trek Core has an interview with J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay; you can read it at http://trekcore.com/blog/2014/06/mckay-payne-interview1/

These two guys sound really promising; I’m cautiously hopeful about what they’ll produce.

@42 (Cygnus-X1): But I will be giving you leeway precisely because film is subjective, which is why I am backing out of this argument for being unfair to you about this. I will end this discussion by saying that I do apologize for my knee-jerk response. I want to give the new a team its due, without having any reservations “colored” by the performance of the previous production crew. Heck, in the end, you could be right that BR is not right for the ST franchise, if ST3 fails to entertain both old and new fans without controversy.

@46 – cool, thanks Corylea! They sound like real fans. Can’t wait for the second part of the trekcore interview!

If I may express my own point of view on the subject under discussion: I started watching Star Trek in 1969. I was only 4 years old but the bright colors and action and space ships caught my attention. I just lacked the intelligence at that time to truly discern what I was watching. It was in syndication in 1972 that I really started to appreciate what I was seeing. I loved it, but even then I had a critical eye. Doomsday Machine rocked my world. The hippy episode drove me outdoors to play baseball or football until dinner was ready. Amok Time fascinated me with it’s introduction to Vulcan culture. The one with Jack the Ripper bored me (and yes I know all the titles to the eps). My point is that even as a young boy I was critical if Star Trek. I can recognize the episodes that are bad (or that I just didn’t like). All Star Trek is open for debate and criticism. And we are ‘ talk going to agree on which is good and which is bad. I didn’t find Trek 09 as great as most people but I didn’t hate it. STID was a mess to me. There legitimate problems with that movie and in the manner that BR conducted their business in regards to the fans. After all these years I, rightly or wrongly, look at my fandom as an investment of both time and money. The only thing I feel I’m… Read more »

@38. Kevin

Thanks for the link.

So far I like what I’m hearing from the new writers & love the fact that they are TNG fans, particularly Payne.